What Does the Book of Mormon Teach About Abraham?

Near the beginning of the Book of Mormon, Lehi’s sons risk their lives in order to obtain a set of brass plates which contains, among other things, the five books of Moses. A central character in those books is the prophet Abraham. Even though he had lived nearly 2,000 years earlier, his influence is felt throughout the Book of Mormon.

The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob

Nephi uses the name of Abraham as he announces his purpose in writing:

For the fulness of mine intent is that I may persuade men to come unto the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, and be saved (1 Nephi 6:4).

Seven other times, this title is used to identify God, usually in the context of His ability and willingness to deliver us from captivity (1 Nephi 19:10). Limhi uses the title as he encourages his people to find a way to escape from Lamanite bondage (Mosiah 7:19). Mormon uses it as he tells us that Alma and his people were also going to be freed (Mosiah 23:23). Alma the Younger uses the term twice as he remembers the deliverance of his father’s people (Alma 29:11, Alma 36:2). The people of Lachoneus use the title as they give thanks for their deliverance from an invading army (3 Nephi 4:30). And Moroni uses the title as he emphasizes to us that God is still a God of miracles (Mormon 9:11).

The implication is clear: God blessed Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He will also take care of us. We can trust Him because we know what He has done for our ancestors.

“Abraham saw of his coming”

Jacob referred to Abraham as an example of sanctifying obedience. By demonstrating his willingness to sacrifice his son, Abraham acted in “similitude of God and his Only Begotten Son” (Jacob 4:5).

Later, the prophet Nephi told the people of Zarahemla that all of the prophets, including Abraham, knew and testified that Jesus would come: “Abraham saw of his coming, and was filled with gladness and did rejoice” (Helaman 8:16-19).

“To sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and with Jacob”

In two sermons, Alma referred to a successful outcome at the Final Judgment in terms of fellowship with the three patriarchs. In Zarahemla (where the people needed to repent), he asked them whether they believed that a filthy person would be invited to sit with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, “whose garments are cleansed and are spotless, pure and white” (Alma 5:24). In Gideon, where the people were doing much better, he prayed that God would keep their garments spotless, “that ye may at last be brought to sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” (Alma 7:25).

Mormon later used the same imagery to assure us that it is possible for everyone who sincerely calls upon God to be cleansed and achieve that outcome (Helaman 3:27-30).

The Abrahamic covenant

One of the purposes of the Book of Mormon, as stated on the title page, is for the readers to “know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever.” One of those covenants, as Nephi succinctly shared with his brothers, is God’s promise to Abraham: “In thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed” (1 Nephi 15:18). From Nephi’s perspective, this meant that God cared about Abraham’s descendants: He would never abandon them. He saw the deliverance of the children of Israel from Egypt as a fulfillment of this covenant (1 Nephi 17:40). He saw the eventual gathering of scattered Israel as a fulfillment of the same covenant (1 Nephi 22:9, 2 Nephi 29:14).

When Jesus visited the American continent, He told the people that the Abrahamic covenant applied to them:

And behold, ye are the children of the prophets; and ye are of the house of Israel; and ye are of the covenant which the Father made with your fathers, saying unto Abraham: And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.
The Father having raised me up unto you first, and sent me to bless you in turning away every one of you from his iniquities; and this because ye are the children of the covenant—
And after that ye were blessed then fulfilleth the Father the covenant which he made with Abraham, saying: In thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed—unto the pouring out of the Holy Ghost through me upon the Gentiles (3 Nephi 20:25-27).

The descendants of Abraham inherit the covenant God made with him, including the blessings and the obligations. God will remember them. God will bless them. And they in turn are expected to bless other people: all other people.

Today, I will remember the influence of Abraham on the people of the Book of Mormon. I will remember that my efforts to draw closer to God, to receive His grace, and to keep covenants with Him can bless the lives of other people as well.

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